You loved people and you came to depend on their being there. but people died or changed or went away and it hurt too much. The only way to avoid that poin was not to love anyone, and not to let anyone get too close or too important. The secret of not being hurt like this again, I decided, was never depending on anyone, never needing, never loving.It is the last dream of children, to be forever untouched.
For each of us as women, there is a dark place within, where hidden and growing our true spirit rises, beautiful and tough as chestnut stanchions against our nightmare of weakness. Within these deep places, each one of us holds an incredible reserve of creativity and power, of unexamined and unrecorded emotion and feeling
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Difference is that raw and powerful connection from which our personal power is forged... We have been taught to either ignore our differences or to view them as causes for separation and suspicion rather than as forces for change. Without community, there is no liberation, only the most vulnerable and temporary armistice between an individual and her oppression... Survival is learning to take our difference and make them strengths.
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Within the lesbian community I am Black, and within the Black community I am a lesbian. Any attack against Black people is a lesbian and gay issue, because I and thousands of other Black women are part of the lesbian community. Any attack against lesbians and gays is a Black issue, because thousands of lesbians and gay men are Black. There is no hierarchy of oppression.
To face the realities of our lives is not a reason for despair-despair is a tool of your enemies. Facing the realities of our lives gives us motivation for action. For you are not powerless... You know why the hard questions must be asked. It is not altruism, it is self-preservation-survival.
If you come as softly As wind within the trees You may hear what I hear See what sorrow sees. If you come as lightly As threading dew I will take you gladly Nor ask more of you. You may sit beside me Silent as a breath Only those who stay dead Shall remember death. And if you come I will be silent Nor speak harsh words to you. I will not ask you why, now. Or how, or what you do. We shall sit here, softly Beneath two different years And the rich earth between us Shall drink our tears.
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Pain is important: how we evade it, how we succumb to it, how we deal with it, how we transcend it. ... pain will always either change or stop. Always. ... The confidence that it will change is what makes bearing it possible. So pain is fluid. It is only when you conceive of it as something static that it is unbearable.
A Litany for Survival For those of us who live at the shoreline standing upon the constant edges of decision crucial and alone for those of us who cannot indulge the passing dreams of choice who love in doorways coming and going in the hours between dawns looking inward and outward at once before and after seeking a now that can breed futures like bread in our children's mouths so their dreams will not reflect the death of ours: For those of us who were imprinted with fear like a faint line in the center of our foreheads learning to be afraid with our mother's milk for by this weapon this illusion of some safety to be found the heavy-footed hoped to silence us For all of us this instant and this triumph We were never meant to survive. And when the sun rises we are afraid it might not remain when the sun sets we are afraid it might not rise in the morning when our stomachs are full we are afraid of indigestion when our stomachs are empty we are afraid we may never eat again when we are loved we are afraid love will vanish when we are alone we are afraid love will never return and when we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard nor welcomed but when we are silent we are still afraid So it is better to speak remembering we were never meant to survive.
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It is as hard for our children to believe that we are not omnipotent as it is for us to know it, as parents. But that knowledge is necessary as the first step in the reassessment of power as something other than might, age, privilege, or the lack of fear. It is an important step for a boy, whose societal destruction begins when he is forced to believe that he can only be strong if he doesn't feel, or if he wins.
To whom do I owe the power behind my voice, what strength I have become, yeasting up like sudden blood from under the bruised skin's blister? My father leaves his psychic print upon me, silent, intense, and unforgiving. But his is a distant lightning. Images of women flaming like torches adorn and define the borders of my journey, stand like dykes between me and the chaos. It is the images of women, kind and cruel, that lead me home.
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Those of us who stand outside the circle of this society's definition of acceptable women; those of us who have been forged in the crucibles of difference - those of us who are poor, who are lesbians, who are black, who are older - know that survival is not an academic skill... For the master's tools will not dismantle the master's house. They will never allow us to bring about genuine change.
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Of all the art forms, poetry is the most economical. It is the one which is the most secret, which requires the least physical labor, the least material, and the one which can be done between shifts, in the hospital pantry, on the subway, and on scraps of surplus paper. Over the last few years, writing a novel on tight finances, I came to appreciate the enormous differences in the material demands between poetry and prose. As we reclaim our literature, poetry has been the major voice of poor, working class, and Colored women. A room of one's own may be a necessity for writing prose, but so are reams of paper, a typewriter, and plenty of time.
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The quality of light by which we scrutinize our lives has direct bearing upon the product which we live, and upon the changes which we hope to bring about through those lives. It is within this light that we form those ideas by which we pursue our magic and make it realized. This is poetry as illumination, for it is through poetry that we give name to those ideas which are - until the poem - nameless and formless, about to be birthed, but already felt.
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The breakdown of mummies and daddies was an important part of lesbian relationships in the Bagatelle... For some of us, however, role-playing reflected all the depreciating attitudes toward women which we loathed in straight society. It was the rejection of these roles that had drawn us to 'the life' in the first place. Instinctively, without particular theory or political position or dialectic, we recognized oppression as oppression, no matter where it came from. But those lesbians who had carved some niche in the pretend world of dominance/subordination rejected what they called our 'confused' lifestyle, and they were in the majority.
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Black men are not so passive that they must have Black women speak for them. Even my fourteen-year-old son knows that. Black men themselves must examine and articulate their own desires and positions and stand by the conclusions thereof. No point is served by a Black male professional who merely whines at the absence of his viewpoint in Black women's work. Oppressors always expect the oppressed to extend to them the understanding so lacking in themselves.
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